In Honor of my Mother (a brutally embarrassing coming-of-age story)

My mother wanted to keep me in an arrested state of development. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s that most parents don’t want to see their little babies grow up. Or maybe they don’t want us to become familiar with our burgeoning sexuality and have us shame the family by getting knocked up at 15. Maybe they’re just prude. Or asexual. Which might both be the case with my mother (Yo Mom, if you’re reading this, STOP RIGHT NOW!)

At 13 when most girls had freshly shaved appendages and a new found interest in what Victoria’s Secret had to offer, I was still tomboyin‘ it with furry legs and a sports bra that may or may not have stunted my breast growth. Mom told me there was no reason to grow up so quickly and like so many stupid stupid children, I believed what my mother told me.

Take for example her neglecting to introduce me to tampons.

For years, when I got my period, I’d walk around with a bulky pad between my legs. The official adult diaper (no, well, I guess that would be Depends, wouldn’t it?). I even wore those puppies in the pool! Those guys soaked up water like a sponge. I’d rise out of the pool with a water-laden bulge in my neon blue dolphin-covered one piece suit.

I’m pretty sure I looked like I had a penis.

I was oblivious at the time but now I can only imagine kids’ faces as I climbed out of the pool magically sprouting a dick. I’m surprised rumors didn’t spread around school.
“Did you see Lauren at the pool the other day? I think she may have a bigger penis than you, Steve.”
The awkwardness of the lead weight cradled in the crotch of my bathing suit forced me to run like a monkey across the pool deck as I scrambled to sheild myself in a towel.

Fast-forward to two years later. I’m working at my first job in an Italian restaurant. My period surprise ambushes and I must have forgotten to put those hateful little pads in my purse that evening. They’re not the easiest thing to carry around in your purse, you know? Do you know how embarrassing it is at 15 years old to have a gigantic maxi pad plop onto your feet when you reach for your wallet? DO YOU???

I was stranded! I knew normal people didn’t use maxi pads so I was terrified to ask around.

I scavenged the restaurant for a co-worker whom I knew would understand my situation.
There weren’t any. I worked with a bunch of sassy young women who read Seventeen- the official magazine of tampons.
I was screwed. I was at that point where I was going to have to get creative with whatever was lying around the restaurant. Luckily, Rachel walked in as I was about to stick wax paper in my underwear.

Rachel was cool. Her and I got each other. She didn’t give me a perpetual “duh” look while smacking her gum like the others.

“Oh my God, Rachel! I just got my period. Do you have anything? You know like a tampon or maybe a maxi pad.”

“Only a tampon bigger than my boyfriend’s penis.” (Amendment- Rachel says that this is not exactly how the exchange went down, but I’m going to leave it. This is how I remember it. I’m sorry, Rachel.)


Exactly what I wanted to hear.

My mind flashed to later in the evening, a customer commenting on the “spaghetti sauce” on the crotch of my pants and realized I had no choice. It was either the super jumbo tampon or a taking the chance on a bunch of wadded up toilet paper in my underwear for the rest of the evening (and we all know how that will end).

I took the crude object from her hand and locked myself in the bathroom.

I carefully peeled back the paper like a popsicle stick.

What the hell is this!?

Ok, there is an outer container, then something inside it. Do I shove the whole thing in my crotch, or just the smaller piece inside? But it’s made of cardboard!!! I don’t think that I should put that in my body. I guess it’s just the fiber glass feeling piece I have to put in there.

I pulled the tampon from the cardboard and put it in between my legs like a plug.

Surely this thing can’t go ALL the way inside!

So, I work for the rest of the evening with a tampon bigger than someone’s boyfriend’s dick sticking half-way out of my vagina. It hurt like a son of a bitch. I was walking around like someone stuck a stick up my ass.

Or vagina.
I had the look of dog shitting as people gave me their orders. The pain was unbearable, but it was mine and mine alone. I couldn’t tell anyone my predicament.

As I walked in to the house later that evening to pull the shrapnel from my battered cootch, my mother stopped me in my tracks.

“Are you ok? What’s wrong?”

“Ma, I had to use a tampon tonight and I don’t think I did it right.”

“What did you do?”

“Well, I only stuck it in only half-way. It hurts!”

She could barely contain her laughter.

I was in this awful predicament because of her!
This was all her fault!!!
I stormed off into the bathroom where I pried the evil, spiteful object from my body all the while having to listen to my mother call all her friends, shrieking, “You’ll never guess what my daughter just did!” I dug out the trusty ol‘ chastity belt of a maxi pad and slapped it into my underwear.

Ooohhhh, that feels so much better.

That night, as I forced myself to lie on my side so I wouldn’t period all over my bed, I thought about the tampon.

If I used it right, my life would be so much easier. I wouldn’t have to worry about rolling over in my sleep. Better yet, I could swim without worrying about the pad floating up to the surface of the pool!

The next day, I took my tip money from the night before and bought myself “tampon lites” at the supermarket. Now knowing that I had to push the tampon ALL THE UP, I pushed it as far is it could go.

Wow, it doesn’t hurt!
It disappears!

I felt liberated! I could walk and swim and sleep freely now! No more worrying about magic penises and “spaghetti sauce” on my pants. I WAS FREEEEEEE!

I walked into the house strong and confident. This was the beginning of a new Lauren. Little did I know I had a long way to go.

It would take me another three years to learn about trimming the little caterpillars above my eyes and the beast that once partied with my maxi pads down below.

Looking back, I can’t be angry at my mother for not explaining these things to me. Did I endure ridicule and embarrassment because of it? Sometimes. Did it make me want to rip out my ovaries and bury them in the dirt? Maybe. But I did learn something priceless from it. A very valuable lesson that I will carry down to my children. Forget drugs and sex, talk to your daughters about the positive attributes of tampons. It will save them a lot of pain and heartache (and therapy).

Love you, Mom!
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  • Reply Rachel October 4, 2008 at 10:57 am

    lauren! geez, I have major issues with Tampons, major ones! I use the skinny ones that say things like ‘great for teens’ on the box! I tampon I gave you that time was from Angela’s office, the only ones she stocked, JUMBOS. I never even used one myself, after years of tampon use. We’ll need to fix this story, because other than being slightly incorrect, it makes it seem like I either A) had a boyfriend with a super small dick, or b) I have a huge vagina. (A) may have been true, but (B) thankfully isn’t. The End.

  • Reply KMM May 7, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Now I feel some shame for once asking my friend “What the hell is wrong with you?!?!” when she emerged from my pool with a saggy pad hanging from her bathing suit. I remember that her bathing suit was plaid and thinking she must have contaminated my entire pool and that we may as well all pee directly into it.

  • Reply Jill March 31, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Greatest. blog. post. ever.
    I'm so serious! This was the first post of yours that I ever read!!! After I started reading it I remembered…it's how I found you on 20SB!!
    My mom never told me about tamps either. As embarrassing as it is, I never used them until just this year…and I'm 23. Don't judge!!! Life is easier with them. I'm a dancer, so just imagine leotards and pads = not a good combo! You are so brave, I thought about writing a similar post but lost the nerve.


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